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Leading soup maker Campbell's (CPB) reported fourth quarter earnings before Tuesday's trading session. The company saw its shares trade down marginally after closing in on a new fifty two week high over the last month. Campbell's saw 2012 as its "year of investment". The company completed several acquisitions and introduced new products to help on its path of growth in the future. The company has three key growth strategies:

· Grow North American Soup and Simple Meals

· Expand internationally

· Drive growth in healthy beverages and baked snacks

In the fourth quarter, the company posted $1.60 billion in sales. The company reported adjusted earnings per share of $0.41. For the quarter, the company was expected to post $0.38 in earnings per share from $1.60 billion in sales. Analysts had been expecting full year earnings per share of $2.40. The company passed analysts' full year targets by reporting $2.44 for fiscal 2012.

Here is a look at the company's fourth quarter sales by segment:

· U.S. Simple Meals: $461 million, +7%

· Global Baking and Snacking: $556 million, +2%

· U.S. Beverages: $181 million, +3%

· International Simple Meals and Beverages: $294 million, +1%

· North American Foodservice: $121 million, -2%

The company's key product, soup, saw sales increase 9%, led by strong double digit gains in the condensed category. On a rolling fifty two week basis, Campbell's has a 58.9% market share of the wet soup category. Other brands account for 28.1% of sales in the category, while the remaining 13% is from private label soup brands.

In the first quarter, Campbell's announced its acquisition of Bolthouse Farms to strengthen its beverage and natural foods lines. The company is spending $1.55 billion on the acquisition. Campbell's expects Bolthouse to hit $750 million in sales in fiscal 2013, which now makes the deal worth about two times annual sales. Campbell's is expecting the acquisition to contribute $0.05 to $0.07 in earnings per share for fiscal 2013.

The biggest reasons to buy shares of Campbell's now are:

· Huge short squeeze candidate with 9.5% of the shares held short

· Generous 3.3% dividend payout

· Increasing international exposure

· Over 50 new products being introduced in fiscal 2013

· The company is buying back its own shares

· Has consistently beat analysts' earnings per share estimates

Shares look like a bargain going forward. The company pays out a generous 3.3% dividend currently and has been raising its quarterly payouts. Campbell's also retired 12.6 million shares of its stock over the last fiscal year. Shares of Campbell's set new highs during the opening of Tuesday's trading session, hitting $36 at one point. With analysts predicting earnings per share of $2.52, shares trade at 14 times forward earnings. Look for shares to set new fifty two week highs and hit $40 by the time first quarter earnings are reported and beat estimates.

Source: Campbell's Fourth Quarter Earnings = Mmm, Mmm, Good